The fact of the matter is, the Xbox One has ceded the generation to Sony and the PlayStation 4 now. There’s very little that can be done to surmount a massive ~30 million unit lead such as the one the PS4 presumably has (we can’t guess the exact extent of the lead, because Microsoft has stopped sharing numbers).
However, it is clear that they are now working to reverse that trend somewhat- they have the Xbox One X that just launched, and they actually seem to have a somewhat respectable lineup of exclusives for the coming year, including Sea of Thieves and Crackdown 3. But is that enough for them to withstand the PlayStation onslaught? Is that enough for them to overcome a resurgent Nintendo with the Switch? Can Microsoft rely on its relatively poorer exclusive lineup for 2018?
“Yes, they don’t have much of a choice. I think the exclusive lineup is respectable, at least as far as we can see it into 2018,” said Lewis Ward, IDC’s Research Director, Gaming and VR/AR in an exclusive interview with GamingBolt. “I’m sure there’ll be some massive Halo title coming to Xbox One in 2018. As far as the broader eighth gen war is concerned, it’s already been lost to Sony. Microsoft will not catch Sony this generation. The goal now is to make the Windows 10-based gaming ecosystem as large and as profitable as possible. Microsoft’s bigger game is to unify in some important ways their PC and console business on a Win10 platform on the terminal side and on the server side with Azure. They view PCs as a growth opportunity from a gaming angle as well, and that’s very different from Sony, which has more or less gotten out of the PC market.
According to Ward, the more exciting race to watch is the competition between the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro.
“A nearer term race to watch between Sony and Microsoft is whether or not Xbox One X will outsell PS4 Pro in the US in 2018. This could happen and would be a significant step forward for Microsoft as the latter half of the eighth gen race begins,” he said.
Personally, I don’t think that’s a battle Microsoft will win either, because Sony’s PS4 Pro is cheaper, and backed by more commercially appealing exclusive games. I also think Microsoft needs to greatly increase its investment in first party exclusives- and I don’t think their current slate will be enough for them to be able to keep up with the PS4 and Switch. It remains to be seen how this will all play out.